A drug that can help patients with a rare and “devastating” type of lung cancer live longer, with a better quality of life, has been approved for use by the NHS.
The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) gave the go ahead for doctors to use five new treatments – including the drug entrectinib, which is also known as Rozlytrek.
It can be given to patients with a rare advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with a genetic abnormality known as ROS1 gene fusion.
Sufferers with this form of the disease – who tend to be younger – are often diagnosed at an advanced stage of the disease, and only have a short life expectancy.
But patients who respond to entrectinib may have reduced symptoms with increased quality and duration of life, enabling them to remain independent for longer.
Delaying the progress of their cancer may also put off the need for chemotherapy.
Gemma Boni, head of lung cancer at the drug manufacturer Roche Products Limited said: “This type of advanced non-small-cell-lung cancer is a very rare and incurable lung cancer that often occurs in non-smokers and affects many under 60 years old.
“Diagnosis is devastating for patients and currently there are limited treatment options. Entrectinib provides another effective, targeted option.”
She added: “Our commitment is to ensure that people in Scotland with lung cancer live longer and healthier lives, and today’s news shows how we are advancing science to achieve this.”
SMC chairman Mark MacGregor said entrectinib was approved after the Patient And Clinician Engagement (Pace) process.
In this medics and sufferers spoke of the “devastating impact a diagnosis of advanced NSCLC with ROS1 gene fusion can have” on patients and their families, and Mr MacGregor said: “We know our decision on this medicine will be welcomed by them.”
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman also welcomed the decision, saying: “Being diagnosed with cancer is devastating for all those affected, and we are committed to supporting and continually improving patient care.
“Cancer services remain a priority across NHS Scotland and a majority of treatments have continued throughout the pandemic.”
The SMC also approved daratumumab – also known as Darzalex – to treat patients newly-diagnosed with multiple myeloma who are eligible for stem cell transplant.
Multiple myeloma is a rare cancer of the white blood cells that can see sufferers develop severe bone pain, kidney damage and a depleted immune system with a consequent risk of serious infection.
There is currently no cure for the disease, but daratumumab may reduce symptoms and allow patients to feel well for longer, so that some will be able to have a stem cell transplant.
Another cancer treatment approved by SMC was the drug brentuximab vedotin, which is also known as Adcetris.
This can now be used as a treatment of systemic anaplastic large cell lymphoma – a rare condition with debilitating symptoms including fatigue, weight loss, fever and night sweats.
The new treatment, in combination with other medicines, can help help significantly increase the time until the disease progresses.
In addition to this, fostamatinib – also known as Tavlesse – was approved for treating those with chronic immune thrombocytopenia, a long-term blood disorder in which the immune system destroys healthy platelets.
And secukinumab, which is also called Cosentyx, was agreed for those with non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis, a form of inflammatory arthritis that mainly affects the spine. This is a painful and progressive long-term condition for which there is currently no cure.
But the SMC said it was not able to accept melatonin, also known as Slenyto, for the treatment of insomnia in children with autism spectrum disorder and/or Smith-Magenis syndrome – a rare neurogenetic disorder.
The SMC said this was because the evidence provided was not strong enough for them to be satisfied that it represents value for money.